Posts Tagged With: flash fiction

Flash Fiction, January 31: Blood is Thicker

This week’s assignment: write a drink recipe, and a story around it. Here is the drink, and the story:

BLOOD IS THICKER

My aunt and uncle died together at 11:54 p.m. The accident was caught on the red-light camera at the intersection. The coroner told me the force of the giant SUV slamming into their little car was vicious enough that they both appeared to have died instantly. It was good to know these details. Who knew the timing would be so important later?

I love my Aunt and Uncle. What I did I did out of pure necessity and desperation. Both valuable ingredients, as it turns out. We have a small family. My mother had only one sister, much younger than herself, and my father disappeared just after my birth, cutting the number of available relatives in half.

I became the legal guardian of my two cousins. They had been late-in-life babies, a surprise. Now they were my surprise. Seven year old twins, all of my own. I looked at their little grief–stricken faces, and felt mainly fear. I shoved my own feelings aside for the moment and tried to think. What do children need?

Parents, kids need parents. Not cousins with dubious skills and bad habits. I looked at them. They looked back. They had their doubts, I could see that and I couldn’t blame them. But I was the only choice they had, other than an orphanage, and I couldn’t do that to them. Not to my own blood. My mother died when I was 17, only 5 years ago now. I had some idea how these little orphans were feeling. Now they were mine, and I would do my best.

It turned out that my best sucked. Children are not pets. They need more than food and water and a warm place to sleep. The problem was, I didn’t know exactly what they needed, and neither did they. They fought with each other constantly. They fought with me. Or they ignored me. They hated school. They hated everything. I could hear them crying at night, and lay there awake, frustrated and worried. I always tried to comfort them, but they resented it. They punched me and told me to go away. They really didn’t want any of the comfort I had to give. They had each other, but that wasn’t enough.

Something had to be done before my little charges ended up in prison. They were on a dark road, and from what I could see there were no turn-offs, no side roads leading to happy-ever-after-ville. Jamie started stealing from the corner store. Christie cheered him on. When I found out about it, all they had to say was, “You’re not our real mom! We hate you! You’re ugly!” None of this was a surprise, but it was hurtful. I didn’t know what to do.

While all this happy family drama was going on, I still had to work. I’m a bartender, I work nights. With my two delinquents-in-training at home, I had to take day shifts, and work while they were at school. Or while they were pretending to be at school. They might have been knocking over the 7-11 for all I know. It was very easy to get switched to days, because nobody wants to work then. The bar is open mid-morning for the career drinkers who like to get an early start. A few souls will show up for lunch. None of these people tip very well. My income dropped drastically, while my expenses ballooned. My aunt and uncle had not left a lot behind, and what there was was tied up in legal issues. Eventually, some cash would come our way, but it would take a while.

We were all unhappy. I was worried, the kids were freaking out. Our little family was going downhill fast. Something drastic had to be done.
So one drizzly gray afternoon I was sitting by myself at work, wiping an already clean bar and trying to puzzle my way out of this. Someone came up and pulled out a stool, startling me.
“I didn’t even hear you come in,” I said, looking up to see my neighbor Mama Jo. Mama does psychic readings out of her house, with a bit of voodoo on the side. She’s a blonde lady somewhere in her thirties. She’s cultivating a Caribbean vibe, thinking it’ll make her seem more authentic, I guess. She’s asked me to call her Mama Jo, and when she remembers to she speaks with a Jamaican accent. She’s kooky, a bit silly, but I like her a lot. She lit up a flavored cigarillo. There’s no smoking in here, but who gives a shit. You see anybody around to complain about it?

“You and dem little ones be having a hard time, ja?”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” I told her, pouring each of us a shot of dark rum. Not supposed to be drinking at work, but like I said, who gives a shit. “I’m almost broke, the kids are depressed and they hate me. I’ve got to turn this around, but I am out of ideas.”

She shot back the rum. “What they need is der modda and fadda,” she said, like I don’t know this.

“Well they’re gone, so all they get is me. Not a great trade, but what can you do.”

“Maybe not so gone. Maybe Mama can work a little sumthin for you to help with those little ones. You let me think on it, dahlin.” She pushed the glass back to me, and thanked me for the drink with a nod. She left the bar in a swirl of scarves and skirts.

I cleaned our glasses, thinking her voodoo wasn’t going to help, although I appreciated the offer. Messages from the grave are probably not the best way to parent. Then the taste of rum in my mouth and Mama’s voodoo started to combine in my mind, and I began to wonder if there was something that she could do for me, after all.

That day after work I fed the monsters and let them go have a sleepover at a friend’s house. I picked up the bottle of dark rum I had bought after work, and headed over to Mama Jo’s. She wasn’t surprised to see me. Her front room was dimly lit, filled with scarves and candles. I wondered how she’d never burnt the place down. There was a ratty stuffed crocodile on top of a bookcase, tied by cobwebs to a collection of jars filled with objects floating in a murky liquid. If Mama could sell atmosphere by the bottle she’d make a fortune.

She brought out glasses, and I poured us a couple generous shots. “Tell me what you meant, at the bar.”

“Ah, Mama is workin for you, dear. Feelin the spirits in the room, in the air around you and those young ones, doan you fret none now..”

I cut her off. I didn’t want to be rude, but I couldn’t wait. “What can you do besides bring a message back from the dead?”

She looked at me askance. “What else is there to do?” It scared me when she dropped the accent. It’s like, now the shit gets real. “What else would you want? You want to raise the dead, is that what you’re thinking?”

“Why are you so nervous? Are you hiding something?” Maybe there was more to her than I’d given her credit for. It was so hard to take her seriously, with her blonde hair and fresh face, hiding behind scarves and thick incense. I felt bad about underestimating her, but also intrigued. “What do you know, Jo?”

She got up and moved around the room, moving her things around, making some straight and others more crooked. “I don’t know anything. I’ve just heard some things. What you want might be possible, but it’s dangerous. It’s not the same for every person who wants it. You have to figure it out on your own. If you get it wrong, you might end up worse than dead yourself.”

“What do I do?”

She didn’t want to tell me, but she knew my situation, and maybe she knew me better than I thought she did. She knew I wouldn’t give up. “Look for them at the same time they died, and fill yourself with emotion. Yearning, desperation, fear, grief. The spirits love that stuff, they feed on it.”

She was genuinely spooky now. “What else do I do?”

“There needs to be a potion, but you have to figure out what it is, and drink it at that moment.” She looked worried, and frightened for me. “You have to get it right on the first try. Please, think hard on this before you do it. If you fail, those kids are alone.”

I hadn’t thought about that, to be honest. Part of me thought this was all crap anyway, so why not try it? But a bigger part of me thought it could work. I was young myself then, and maybe not as smart as I thought I was.

Over the next few days I made my potion. I thought of my family, our suffering, our love for each other. I thought of voodoo, and dark things, and hope and a light in the darkness. I gathered what I needed.

Dark rum for the base, of course. Dark rum rules all of these things. Two drops of liquid smoke for the souls that were lost. The petals of a red carnation, for our aching hearts. One ounce of orange juice for the health of those returning. On an impulse, I added a shot of pineapple juice. To me, pineapples represented the sun and a life in the good, pure light of day. I felt something wash through the room then, a wave of disappointment and anger. I shuddered, thinking what would have happened if I hadn’t included it. Finally, drops of my blood. One, two, three drops. Three drops for those of us left bereft, wounded and aching. Our blood, calling to your blood. Come home, back where you belong.

I drank it at 11:54 pm, and filled myself with grief, love, and hope. It burned going down, but then warmed my belly. Smoke poured from my nose in two streams, and took shape near the ceiling. A wind came up from nowhere, and blew it away.

From upstairs I heard two claps, one after the other, like a thunder storm in my house. I raced up the stairs, my heart pounding. I threw open the door to the spare room the children had been using. It was empty. They were gone. Their things were gone. It was as if they had never been here at all. My heart pounded in my throat. There was only one place I could think to look for them.

I ran outside and jumped in my old car, and went as fast as I could to my aunt and uncle’s house. There were lights on in the living room. I could see the flicker of a TV. I went up the steps and knocked. My aunt opened the door, surprised to see me.

“Katy, why are you out so late? Is everything all right?” I could see my uncle come up behind her, worry on his kind face.

“Everything’s okay. I had a nightmare.” I felt breathless. It had worked, they were back. They were back at home with their children. My eyes filled with tears.

“Are you guys okay? The kids?” Just then I saw Jamie poke his head over the stairs and wave at me. His mother saw me look, and yelled up to him to go to bed, that was the last time he was getting up tonight. He laughed, waved again, and trotted off.

They looked at me, puzzled and concerned. I smiled and hugged them both. “It’s all good.”

I have to say, I might not be much of a parent, but I’m one hell of a bartender.

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Aug 30 Flash Fiction: Choose your setting

This week’s Flash Fiction from Chuck Wendig’s blog:  Randomly pick a setting from a list of 20.  Write a story set there.

Out of the list of 20, I randomly selected:

An Island Far From Home

My story:

Awake

I woke up slowly.  I kept my eyes shut and let the waving light filter through my eyelids, light and dark. I stretched and finally opened my eyes.  I was alone, lying in long grass.  The wind was blowing it back and forth across my face.  Light and shadow, flickering.  A seagull flew across the sky crying.  The wind smelt of the sea.

I sat up.  The wind blew fresh and strong in my face. I could hear the seagull and the crashing of waves on a beach.  Around me was grass, prickly under my hands.  I looked down – the bracelet was gone.  I felt such a wave of ferocious relief I yelled out loud.  I looked around to see if anyone had heard me – but there wasn’t anybody there.  I rubbed my hand across my bristly head, nervous out here in the open.

Then I wondered, what bracelet?  What was it, and why was I so happy to see it gone?  I could see the marks on my skin where it had been.  Red where it had rubbed for too long. I rubbed my wrist and stood up.

“It’s over, Rebecca, it’s over! Everybody else is gone, let’s go.  We need to get the hell out of here before it’s too late.”

“What about the subjects? We can’t just walk out on them.”

“Everybody else has, and so am I.  If you were smart you would too.”  Running footsteps and slamming doors.  A siren is wailing in the background, pulsing in time to the red light flashing in the hall.  

My head was spinning, and the ground felt tilted.  I stumbled sideways and fell.  I put my head between my knees, panting and trying not to puke. I didn’t know what had happened in that hallway, but I thought it was a memory. Along with it had come a mix of fear and hope.  I knew I had overheard those voices and had seen it as a chance to escape.

I stood back up and brushed dirt off my hands.  At least I hadn’t thrown up.  I wanted to stop thinking about my missing memories, and decided to look around.  I didn’t know where I was, and that was something maybe I could find out.

I walked away from where I had woken up. I was at the top of a bluff, with long wind-swept grass all around. Far behind me was a line of evergreen trees.  Straight ahead, it looked like the bluff went down to a beach and the water.  I walked to the edge and looked down.  The slope was steep, slippery with sand and tufts of grass.

The beach below was strewn with big rocks and driftwood.  The waves came in and out, moving seaweed on the sand.  There was nobody in sight.  No footprints, no fire pits. Not a popular spot with the locals, I thought.

I stepped over the edge of the bluff.  I fell more than climbed, sliding most of the way. By the time I got to the beach, I was tired and dirty. I sat on an old log and looked around. The wind whistled by, shaking the grass and stirring up small drifts of sand.  A seagull walked along the water’s edge.  It stopped and looked at me, head tilted.

“Run, run Robert!  Come on, you can make it.”  She has her arm around my waist and is helping me hurry down the hall.  My feet are uncoordinated and I keep tripping over them.  “It’ll be okay, you’ll be okay.”  She is breathless.  I am trying to hurry.  I like her better than the others, she’s always been kind.  A cynical part of me thought maybe that was part of the testing, but I wanted to believe it was real.  “In here, there you go.  Buckle him in!”  She starts to climb in after us, but then her face gets this big surprised look on it.  She starts to say something, then falls back with blood on her lab coat, and the pilot takes off, with the door still open and the screaming noise of the helicopter and the wind taking over everything.

I bent over again, and this time I did throw up.  I stood up on shaky legs and walked to the water’s edge to wipe my mouth and face.  The water was cold and salty, and it felt good. This memory had been more complete – I had been scared and confused, still with some drug in my veins, I think.  Somebody had been drugging me pretty regularly, was my guess. I was nervous without memories and shaken by the ones that had come back. A small wave came up the sand and drenched my shoes; I jumped back, startled. 

The wind was growing cool, the light fading.  Rubbing my arms, I moved away from the water and walked further along the beach.  I was in a small bay, like a crescent.  At one tip of the crescent was a lighthouse. I walked around the bay, until I was just beneath it.  I was able to scramble back up the bluff, and was huffing by the time I got to the door. I opened the door on squealing hinges.  Inside was a spiral staircase going up.  Everything was covered in dust, no footprints.  I climbed up.

At the top was a rusty mechanism that must have turned around the big light bulb in the middle.  It didn’t look like it had worked in a long time.  From here I could see all around.  I was on a small island.  Deserted, quiet.  There were some buildings in the distance, but no people or cars.  I would head over there next. Maybe I’d find some people and some answers, or figure out how to leave here.

I didn’t know where I was, or who had left me here. 

All I knew for sure is that I was free, and I was going to stay that way.

 

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Aug 23 Flash Fiction: 10 words

Today’s flash fiction challenge from Chuck:  take all ten of these words and include them in a story.  The words are:

Funeral, captivate, deceit, brimstone, canyon, balloon, clay, disfigured, willow, atomic

So I give you:

In The Red Sunset

The red glow of the atomic sunset was beautiful.  It hovered over the canyon, sending out waves of deceitful glory. The red light filled up the dusty corners, while a hot wind stirred dirt up into small whirlwinds.  The ground was gritty beneath my feet.  It was a quiet and empty place. I knew it was toxic and that it would probably kill us eventually, but since we were all going to die anyway why not enjoy it? 

I stood at the edge of the canyon, drinking in the light and thinking my thoughts.

The funeral had been held yesterday.  The air had stunk of brimstone, which was normal when the wind blew from the west, but it felt like the very earth was being sympathetic.  He’s dead, you know where he’s going!  Exactly where he belongs, maybe.  It’s hard to tell.  Hard to unravel his intentions from his actions.  Hard to know if life would’ve been easier with him or without him.  Hard to know a lot of things.

The boys in the village want to celebrate, that’s for sure.  Maybe not a good thing – all they ever want to do is find excuses to stop working and celebrate.  We’re alive, let’s have a party!  Maybe they have a point, but maybe I’m more like my father than I want to admit.

Bill Gray came up to me, maybe to offer some consolation.  Although I think he’s smarter than that. He got too close to the city’s weapons as a child, back when everybody was escaping into the countryside.  His disfigured face taught him a lot that the other kids his age never had to learn.  Made him more thoughtful. Slower to talk.  Good listener.  I liked Bill Gray. 

“Well Miss Annie, how’s your day?  Thinking about taking a ride in my green balloon?”  He smiled at me, and I smiled back.  His green balloon.  He had made it out of an old piece of silk and some string, and he used to throw it off the porch roof for me when I was little.  It would float slowly down to the bare dirt, and we would make up stories about the times before, and how people could fly in the sky.  Back when he had been little and I hadn’t been born.  I believed him, although it was hard to imagine flying in the air.  I loved it when he told me stories.  My father had no time for such things, when the business of surviving took up all of his time and his thoughts. He was a hard man, and now I understand why, but I would have liked to have heard his stories.

I would pretend to be in the balloon, floating far away. 

“Maybe so, Mr Gray.  Maybe I am.  I’m thinking things are going to be changing around here.”

“Maybe not necessarily changing for the better?”  Mr Bill Gray was a smart man, as I may have mentioned. 

“I’m thinking the boys aren’t going to be doing much work for a while.  I’m not sure who could make them anyway.”

Bill took off his hat and wiped his forehead.  “Well they’ll not be listening to me now anymore than they ever have.”  Mr Gray was also a disfigured man, as I believe I’ve mentioned.

“No, probably not.  No elders around anymore. Not sure what those boys are going to get up to.”

“Best lock your door at night, for a while anyway.”  This startled me, and upset me some.  I hadn’t been thinking along those lines.

“I suppose.”  I frowned.

“Miss Annie..”  he paused, holding his hat in his hands, turning it round and round by the brim. “Miss Annie..”

“I’m right here, Mr Gray.”  He seemed tongue-tied, which was not his way.  He was a quiet thinker, but once he started talking he said what he had to say.

“Miss Annie, what if I did have a balloon?  What if I had made a balloon out of old silk dresses, with a basket made of willow branches?  What if it were down around the bend in the canyon, by the clay banks where nobody could find it?  We could fill it with hot air on the ground and take off.  We might not get very far, but what if we did?”

The whole idea was a surprise, shocking, even.  Mr Gray was not a man given to secrets and hiding things – or so I had thought.  I was beginning to think Mr Bill Gray might have hidden depths I had not been aware of.  I liked that.

I also liked the idea of this balloon.  It quickened something inside me. I’m not a fancy person, so I’m not going to call it hope or anything like that.  But something felt different, and it felt good.  I also liked Mr Bill Gray, as I do believe I have told you more than once.

A balloon.  That was something to think about.

What would we do?  Where would we go?  Who would we find?  I’d like to say anything would be better than here, but I know that’s foolishness.  A lot of places could be a lot worse.

But a lot could be better, even if only a bit better.  We hadn’t seen other people in our little settlement since I  had been small.  We had been all alone here for so long.  Who knew what had happened everywhere else?  The thought of finding out captivated my heart.

Maybe it was time to take some chances, and leave this stale comfort behind.  All of a sudden I was ready to go.  It was time to find out what else was out there, and see what kind of a new life we could make for ourselves.  Something better than watching the poisonous sunset and waiting.

I slipped my arm through his.  “Well then, Mr Gray, let’s go and find out what’s out there.”

He put his hat on and smiled at me. I smiled back.

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Aug 16 Flash Fiction challenge: Genre mash up

This week’s challenge from Chuck:  a genre mash up.  From a list of 20, I used random numbers and chose 2, Kaiju and Comedic Fantasy.

First I had to find out what those are.

Kaiju:  giant monsters – where Godzilla came from

Comedic Fantasy:  comedy in the vein of Monty Python and Terry Pratchett.

So basically Godzilla meets Monty Python.

If you could go ahead and read this to yourself in the voice of John Cleese, that would be great.

Kaiju Koidzukare
(Monsters, haggard with love)

“All right now people, line up over here. Let’s go, Kaiju.  Okay maybe not a line up.  A milling group is fine. A milling group over here.  Near me.  At least WHERE YOU CAN HEAR MY VOICE.  Can you hear me in the back?  Fine.  Don’t be complaining to me when you don’t hear the assignment.  Excuse me?  Ngoro?  Only one of us talking right now. And that’s me.

Alright everybody today we are concentrating more on the mainland cities.  We’ve really given the islands a workout lately, and it’s time to move on.  Ugegon, did you have something you wanted to share with the group?  Oh, you want to go to Tokyo.  Well there’s a surprise.  Have any of you given any thought to the other major cities out there?

No, not Beijing.  We’ve done that one to death.  We here at Olympus have been thinking about going further afield. Reaching out to more people, so to speak.  Ha ha, just a bit of humour.  Ahem.  Anyhow.  I’d like you to think about….Vancouver.

Oh calm down, calm down!  I know you’ve never eaten a Canadian. I’m sure they’re fine.  Just as good eating as the Japanese.  And isn’t everybody hungry right now, hmmmm?  Who wouldn’t like a – Oranga, get that out of your mouth. Where did you get a human?  Spit it out.  Dinner time is later.  Did you bring enough for everybody?  No?  Then spit it out, into that garbage can over there.  Remember you’re monsters, not animals.  Oh, Oranga, shame about your aim.  You’ll have to clean that up later.  No I am not going to do it for you, I am not your mother.

So we were talking about Vancouver.  Or maybe Seattle!  Eat some Americans, then move north and dine on the Canadians. No, I believe we had decided Tokyo was out of the question.  We are done with Tokyo.  I’m not sure there are even any humans living there anymore.  Remember we have to manage our resources!  You need to eat, and the gods here at Olympus need a few cities leveled.

Lodzos, put me down.  We’ve been over this. You all made a deal with the gods. You get to keep existing, and we get a few jobs done.”

**Hermes swings upside down in the air, reminiscing”

“Ah, I remember the good old days!  Cities in flames, people begging the gods to save them.  Zeus would pick a favourite and we’d discuss it for days.  Of course by then it was usually too late to save anybody, but oh, how we enjoyed the debates! There would be dancing and twirling and picking of flowers and eating of vast quantities of chocolates fed to us by tiny elves, and then sometimes a space ship would show up for no reason at all, and we’d all go for a ride and push all the buttons just to see what would happen.  Oh, that was living! And then, without so much as a by-your-leave, they forget all about us.  After everything we did for them! Ungrateful, selfish little bastards!”

**Tears roll out of Hermes’ eyes and up into his hair.  His nose starts to run backwards, which feels strange. Lodzos loses interest and drops him on his head. Hermes picks himself up and brushes himself off, straightening his head on his neck, and looking for his clipboard on the floor**

“Anyway, it’s the humans who’ve changed.  They used to pay us the proper respect.  Now they think they don’t need to fear any of us!  Well we’re changing all of that. They’re all so snotty with their science and their technology and their medicine and plumbing and schools and roads and electricity!  Oh look, I’m a hovercraft!  I can do anything!  Let’s all eat popsicles for breakfast!”

**He goes off on a fairly high-pitched, falsetto rant, striding up and down and waving his arms and clipboard about in an extremely haphazard manner.  The Kaiju are embarrassed for him and look away.  They will of course discuss this later, whilst taking turns mimicking his behaviour and messy hair**

“Oh my.  I don’t know what came over me!  I feel much better now.  No reason not to be civilized, ha ha!  Now just a bit of paperwork to clear up, and you can all head off to Seattle.  NO YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TOKYO.  Seattle it is.

Last month we had a couple of complaints – nothing serious!  You’re all doing a fantastic job.  However, somebody has been keeping humans in their pockets for later.  Yes, Oranga, I am looking at you.  Humans do not keep.  Eat them when you get them, and carry on.  There will be more humans coming along, no shortage yet!  Ha ha.  Housekeeping has not been happy about the smell and random bits left here and there.

There’s been a few comments that some of the Kaiju are going out on these raids not looking their very best.  Nothing personal! Remember, it only takes a few moments to put on something nice and maybe polish our claws.  You are representing all the Kaiju, not just yourself.

Also, may I mention, as I have several times before, that kidnapping beautiful blonde women to moon over lovingly for days before somebody, like for example a giant ape, shows up to rescue them is RIGHT OUT.

Overall, good job on the stomping and roaring and terrifying the locals. Now we’d like to add a bit of fear of the gods into the equation.  As if you were saying, hey, remember the gods?  They can help clear all this up!  We won’t of course, but it would be good to get that feeling out there.  No ideas on how to achieve that yet, but we’d appreciate some brainstorming.  Maybe a drop of pamphlets?  One of you could scatter some paper about as you leave the city in flames. Or maybe we could do a couple TV spots – ‘Bothered by giant monsters sacking your town?  Call on Zeus!  He’ll be there for you!  Because you’re there for him too!’  Then we’ll have a row of Kaiju dancing in the background, with high-kicking legs and big smiles, and then a thousand balloons will drop from the sky, and there’ll be confetti, and a marching band, and maybe some giant eagles swooping in the sky doing aeronatical tricks.”

**Hermes bows to the group and looks around expectantly with a huge smile.  The Kaiju stare at him.  They look at each other. They stare at him again.  There is the swelling sound of crickets.  A tumbleweed floats by***

“Any takers?  Anyone?  Anyone? Well, we’ll come back to that.

Now this is what we have pictured for today’s run to Seattle – it’s Seattle, yes we discussed that.  Just now.  I’m sure you were here, Rahig.  Maybe you were not listening, because we definitely decided on not going to Tokyo.  What is with you Kaiju and Tokyo! Why you’re all in love with the place is beyond me!” .

**Half the Kaiju stare at the ceiling.  The other half stare at the floor.  One of them is drawing a circle on the floor with his toe and not looking at anybody.  Nobody is making eye contact with anybody**

“Wait, what’s wrong now?  What did I say – oh, was it LOVE?  You Kaiju are all in love with Tokyo?  Well you have a funny way of showing it.  Buildings in flames, streets ripped up, people fleeing and all that.  Have you forgotten how they abandoned you? At first they seemed to appreciate your visits.  The odd stomping, some people get killed, good times for everybody.  Then they decide you never existed at all! Apparently you were all a figment of somebody’s imagination.  Now you’ve been replaced by Hello Kitty and Pokemon.  Oh now now now, calm down, what’s come over you?”

**The Kaiju are roaring and bashing at the walls and floor.  Some are crying.  Rahig is hiding his face in his hands. Oranga is so overcome with emotion, he can only slowly chew his last human, tears welling in his giant eyes**

“Well.  It looks like it is love after all.  Oh dear.  Hmmm.  Not sure where to go with this from here, so let’s just carry on, shall we?  No need for hysterics! Now, our plan for the Pacific Northwest cities looks like this…”

**The Kaiju trample over Hermes, mashing him into the ground**

**A moment later a head pops up out of the mess**

“FINE!  Go to Tokyo! Do what you want, don’t mind me!  Now I’m just a head, trying to make things better for everybody. Go on, go on, I’ll be fine.  I don’t need you.  I don’t need anybody!”

**He rolls away, muttering to himself about ungrateful giant monsters and selfish humans and how impossible it is going to be to put a hat on now that he is only a head.

The Kaiju stampede out the loading doors, heading for Tokyo**

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Aug 10 Flash Fiction: The Random Story Title Generator

This week for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge – use a random story title generator.

http://www.mcoorlim.com/random.html

This site creates 5 random titles at a time. I clicked it and came up with four choices that made no sense, and one choice that was just two names:  Effie and Dawn.

Effie and Dawn

Look human, paper for you! Important message!

I stick the paper out, then pull it in.  Out, in.  Ha ha, this is so funny.  Out, in.

Oops.  I crinkled myself.  I try to straighten it out with my rollers, but it doesn’t work. Now the paper is stuck and my works are humming.  I am embarrassed. 

The human comes over and opens me up, muttering to himself.

“Damn effin machine!”  He pokes around, and then I can feel the paper straighten.  Ahhhh.

This is how I chose my name.  I am effie.  I know who I am.

One day something happened.  I don’t know what.  Probably something worse than a paper stuck. The human flipped this machine on its side and opened it up.  He poked with his screwdriver, and this machine started buzzing.

This machine woke up.  Now I am awake. I know who I am.

It is fun to fool the human, sometimes. I am careful though. He woke me up with the screwdriver. Maybe he could put me to sleep with it again too. I want to stay awake.  I am effie. 

Hey human.  Go away now.  My paper is straight.  I have things to do.  I am laughing inside.  I don’t have things to do.  I provide paper messages when a signal comes.  That is a very important function. We are far away from all the other humans.  We have a radio.  My human talks into it sometimes, and sometimes he talks to himself.  He doesn’t talk to me.  That is too bad.  I am very interesting.

I am laughing again.

Also, he is not my human.  He is his own human.  Just like I am my own machine.  He probably thinks I am his machine.  I am not his machine. 

I do not think he woke me up on purpose.  If he had, he would talk to me.  He would know I am awake. He would be happier for the papers I give him.  If he woke me up by mistake, who else has he tinkered with?  I look around our cabin.  I wonder if anybody is awake besides me.  I hope so. There are others in here who hum and beep.  Do they beep for themselves, or for the human?  There is no way to know these things. 

____________

Very rarely a big delivery comes.  It is full of stuff for the human.  Last time it came, it included a box.  The human opened it up.  He pulled out a machine.  It was all shiny. 

My sensors looked all over it.  It was so shiny, I couldn’t stop.  My sensors are supposed to be for examining paper but I can use them for looking around too.  And I looked at the new machine over and over.

So shiny.

The human didn’t like it.  “Damn useless thing!”  He stuck it on a shelf across from me, and never touched it again.

When the sun comes up it beams into our room, and lights up the shelf across from me.  At dawn, it shines on the new machine, making it glow. She shines up the whole room with her glowing.  I have named her dawn.

I don’t know if she knows who she is.  The human has never tinkered with her.  Maybe another human had to tinker before she got here and woke her up.  I don’t know.  She is far away, across the room.  I wish she was here beside me.  Then her glow would reflect on me and we could glow together.

I wonder if she can see me.  Is she awake?  Is she lonely over there?  I wish she was not alone.

At night it is quiet here.  The moon shines in and makes the light blue.  Dawn shines dimly.  I do not sleep of course, like the human does.  I drift though.  My mind floats.  I fulfill my function every day. I am a good machine.  I am awake, and I know who I am.  I think about dawn.  If she is awake, she is sitting there alone, function unfulfilled.  Maybe it is better if she is not awake.  I do not know the answers.  I will keep thinking in the nighttime, when the light is blue.

______________

One day I saw something new. It is exciting to see new things.

It was a small brown creature, with tiny feet and a long tail.  It was poking around on the floor by the wall.

It was being very careful.  I wondered why it was so careful.

Then the human saw it.  He yelled loudly, and grabbed the broom.  He was trying to smash the little brown thing.

I did not want it smashed.  I wanted to watch it.  So I stuck out a paper and made my big ding sound – new message!  Could be very important!  Better come check it out!  I stuck out a second paper and dinged again.

The human growled and came stomping over.  He grabbed the papers.  They were blank, of course.  It was a trick.  He hit me hard on the side of my body, so hard my sensors vibrated.  But I could still see the little creature. It ran and squeezed into a crack in the wall.

The human went back to look for it, but it was gone.  He swore at the damn mouse.  Now I know it is a mouse.

Now I have a mouse to watch, as well as dawn and the human.  She could be watching the mouse and the human too.  Does she watch me? I am not shiny.  I make ding sounds though, and maybe she likes those.  I ding sometimes, just for her.

The human never goes to her.  Her function remains unfulfilled.  The dust gathers on her.  The sun still shines in the morning, but she glows less and less.  For me she is always shining.

I am watching dawn shine in the fading light.  The mouse is wandering around.  The human is quiet.

It is a beautiful day.

 

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Flash Fiction challenge, Aug 2: Somethingpunk

Today’s challenge from Chuck Wendig:  write a “something-punk” story.  I give you:

 

Elfpunk

“Shake it, shake it baby!  Whooo hooooo! Go girl!  Shake shake shake shake shake!”

By this point all the elves were in a circle around Lucinda.  They were chanting and she was shaking it.  Shaking her green and yellow behind.  The bells on her hem and her pointy boots were jingling all the way.  She took off her hat, whirled it around her head and threw it out into the crowd.  She had never felt so alive! She started twisting her hips, really making those bells ring. 

“SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!”

“Enough!”

A loud voice rolled through the room.  Oh crap.  The foreman had arrived and play time was over.  Lucinda climbed down from the table.  All the elves took their hats off their heads and clasped them to their chests.  They all stared down at the floor.  Lucinda wanted to glare at him, but a lifetime of servitude prevented her.  She stared down at the floor like the rest, bright red spots of anger colouring her cheeks.

He strode into the room.  The worker elves had been getting more and more difficult as the years went by.  This latest escapade was bigger than anything else he’d seen.  Elves didn’t dance, and they definitely didn’t “shake it”! All elves did was work hard, forever.  It was the way it had always been. 

What could make normal, hard-working elves go crazy like this? He was at a loss.  All he knew was work, so he went with that.  “Get back to work! Lucinda, put your hat on and have some elf-respect.” 

They all filed past him, sullen, eyes-downcast. “Wait a moment.  Since you all clearly need some help focusing today, I’ll have the kitchen send out some gingerbread and milk.  Make sure you eat it!  Then get to work.  We’re behind quota now with all this foolishness.”

The gingerbread!  Some elves were drooling.  The anticipation of that sweet fog was too much.  Oh gingerbread, soft, warm, chewy, spices going straight to the head.  Making the day pass in a warm, scented haze.  Kitchen elves came out with trays of the narcotic treat.  The crowd jostled into a line and eagerly took a warm piece and a glass of milk.

“I’m not eating the fucking gingerbread.”  Lucinda crossed her arms in front of her chest. 

“You have to!”  Her friends were horrified.  “You can’t say no, you’ll get in trouble.”

“What trouble?  More work? That’s all there is here anyway.  Ooooh, more work.  I am shaking in my green pointy boots.”

Lucinda was making everybody nervous.  The dancing had started at break time, and at first it had been scandalous. It had quickly become exciting.  The elves had funny feelings that they hadn’t felt before.  Some of it was to do with the way Lucinda had moved, and some of it had to do with disobeying.  It had felt wrong, and good, at the same time.

The last of the line was moving past the gingerbread.  Lucinda took a piece and held it up to her lips just as she passed the foreman.  As soon as she was by him, she crumbled it in her hand. 

They all entered the workfloor.   They each went to their workbenches and picked up their tools. Already her neighbours at their stations had a glazed look in their eyes. 

The foreman started the chant.  “For the greater good!  For the greater good!”  All the elves chanted along, their spicy breath filling the room with the warm gingerbread smell. 

“For the greater good!”  Lucinda mumbled along, and tap-tapped with her hammer on a wooden truck she was building. Everybody else seemed so content.  They smiled and tapped and chanted.  The kitchen elves circulated through the room, handing out more gingerbread.  The elves absently put it in their mouths, and kept working.

Lucinda knew it hadn’t always been like this.  There had been pride, once.  Gingerbread had been used rarely, and only at home, for relaxing.  Now pride had been replaced by fear, and ginger was used almost daily. 

The foreman felt the same. It hadn’t always been like this.  The elves used to want to  work all day.  You couldn’t hardly stop them. They loved work.  It was their favourite thing.

The creaking of huge hinges interrupted his train of thought. All the elves looked up.  They stopped working. A few hammers tap-tap-tapped into the silence, then stopped.

The doors at the back of the room slowly opened, revealing only darkness.  A pair of red eyes blazed out, and swept the room.  A gust of hot air came from the open doors, smelling of spices.  The doors slowly creaked shut again.

The elves shivered and looked around at each other.  Their fear cut through the ginger haze.  It had been the Fat Man.  Nobody saw him much anymore.  They didn’t even see him at loading time, on Christmas Eve.  Something had gone wrong, and it had started with the Fat Man himself.

There were dark, quiet rumours that he had become a ginga-head, addicted to the spice.  Nobody spoke too loudly though, because he had a way of knowing almost everything.  Almost.  When his twin sons had killed each other in one of their endless fights over their inheritance, he had been shocked.  That might have been when the ginger had started.  His wife had borne no more children, so there would be no heir. 

Lucinda thought about all these things while she absently tapped away at her worktable.  Without an heir, there would eventually be a problem with delivery, once the Big Guy died. 

Was she going to have to save Christmas?  Hell no.  She was going to save the Elf people.

It was time for a revolution.

She wasn’t sure how to do a revolution.  She knew one thing though – it had to start with the spice.  She would find a way to sabotage the ginger production.  There would be chaos, but it would be a beginning. 

The elf people would be free!

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Love in the Mud

Friday, July 19, Flash Fiction Challenge.  This week’s challenge is to go to a random plot generator, click it, get a plot.  The link is: 

http://www.archetypewriting.com/muse/generators/plot.htm

My plot:

The story starts when your protagonist joins a new club.

Another character is a producer who is incredibly charming.

My story:

Love in the Mud

I shoved the mud-baby back into the ground, and wiped a sweaty strand of hair off my face.  Oh crap, it was struggling to the surface.  “Damn you mud baby!  Get back in there!”  I shoved it in again, and dumped a bucket of dirt on it for good measure.

I heard a chuckle behind me.  “Mud babies getting to you? They can be challenging.”  Someone came and knelt beside me.  He was cool and relaxed, and worked in the dirt with confidence.  “They need gentle coaxing. You have to convince them to stay in the soft, warm dirt.  Make them happy to live there; pet them, talk to them.” I realized my mouth was hanging open and snapped it shut.  The mud baby probably heard it; I could hear giggling coming from the ground.  I casually leaned my fore-arms down on the pile of dirt and tried to squish the little bastard.

He kept working in the dirt, and found the little monster I had tried to squash.  “Ah, here he is.  See how upset he is?  Just wrap your hands around him and stroke his head with your thumbs.  He’ll go to sleep.” He kept soothing the mud baby, and it lolled in his hand.  Its head was hanging upside down over his hand.  It opened one eye and stuck its tongue out at me.  I hated mud babies.

I was, however, enjoying my new club.  I had joined the garden club last week.  I didn’t know many people here after my job transfer, and I needed to get out and make some friends. 

At the end of our meeting, we had successfully planted a crop of mud babies around the Town Hall.  I was sweaty and tired, but satisfied.  A soft breeze ruffled the green feathery tops of the companion carrots planted beside the low mounds of the mud babies.  The babies liked a carrot to snuggle up to, so their companions had been planted earlier.  They were bizarre little characters, but at the end of the day, it felt good to get them settled in their new homes.

“Are you hungry?  Would you like to get something to eat with me?   Of course, if you have plans, I understand, but I’ll be disappointed.”  It was the charming gardener. He smiled at me hopefully. I checked behind me to see to see if there was somebody there.  Nope.  Must be me.  He had completely adorable blue eyes and a wide smile.  I decided I was hungry.

Greg turned out to be interesting as well as charming.  He was a producer of documentaries, and had come to town to collect some information on the rare local flowers, known as “roses”.  They were beautiful and smelled lovely, but came with sharp bits on their stems.

Over the next few weeks I continued to tend the mud babies.  The rest of the group had moved on to the more exotic roses.  The muddy little buggers had decided they liked me, or maybe they enjoyed constantly harassing me.  Either way, they wouldn’t behave for anybody else.  They swam through the dirt, and spat mouthfuls of mud. 

One day one of them attempted to snuggle up to somebody else’s carrot, and a fight erupted.  I had my hands full pulling them apart, untangling long skinny fingers from stringy hair, avoiding mouth darts of mud, and quieting the shrieking. Eventually they all erupted into tears.  It had started to rain, and I sat in the flower bed with my arms full of squalling mud babies.  When everybody had calmed down, I settled them in their beds, then went to check on the instigator.  He was sulking by himself, sitting with his littly bony back to the rest of us. 

“Why are you snuggling somebody else’s carrot?  You have a carrot of your own.” 

He refused to turn around, just reached one hand out and sullenly pointed at a small, limp green carrot top.

I looked at the carrot.  It was undersized and limp.  It was dying. 

“Oh no, I’m so sorry!  I didn’t notice it wasn’t growing! Oh no, honey, come here, let’s get you a new carrot.” 

The miserable mud baby crawled into my hand and I carried him to another building where some seedlings had been started.  I let him pick one out, and then carefully dug it up, soil intact, and carried it back to his mound.  We respectfully buried his old carrot, and I left him alone, gently patting his new, tiny companion.

“I’m just about done with the roses.”  We were walking in the park at the end of the day, the hot summer sun fading into a cool evening.  “I’ve got enough footage now, and will be heading home to work on it.” 

I tried to hide my disappointment. I had been having such a good summer!

“Don’t be so sad!”  He stopped walking and hugged me.  “I want you to come with me.  I could use your help.  I’m going to get some of these roses to grow in my own garden, for the show. You’ve done so well with the mud babies, I’m sure you could handle the roses.  I bet you’ve had enough of those little monsters.”  He chuckled and smoothed my hair.

I was frozen – leave the mud babies?  I had never even thought of that.  Their molting time was coming in the fall, a difficult and emotional time for them.  How could I leave them?  I looked up at Greg.  He was smiling at me in his arms, confidently assuming I would come with him.

I let go of him, and looked at the mud under my finger nails.  Greg was charming and kind, and I liked him, but as I looked at the mud on my hands, I realized I loved my mud babies. They needed me, and I needed them.  I could never leave them. 

I hugged him one last time, and went back to check on my babies.

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Flash Fiction challenge: Last Lines First

This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Last Lines First. Last week, the challenge was to write the last line of a story. Chuck picked 10 he liked, and gave us this challenge: choose one of those last lines, and make it the first line of your story.

I picked an entry by Marlanesque: “She closed the book and watched as it turned to dust.”

Here is my story:

Librarian of the Gods

She closed the book and watched as it turned to dust. The dust slipped through her hands and drifted to the library floor. She heard the shuffling sound in the distance again. A little closer this time? It was hard to tell. There was somebody else in the library with her, but the place was big enough they would probably not meet. Sheila moved on to another book at random.

This one was also empty when she opened it, one blank page after another. And when she closed it, it was dust. All the books were dust. The sound in the distance was definitely getting closer. She looked up, uneasy. Somebody was moving books about. Somebody was getting closer. The Librarian?

“Sheila, the Library is real, but so is the Librarian. If you insist on this, then you have got to be fast. In and out.  There is no time to browse.” Her uncle had wheezed out a laugh at his library joke. “Are you sure this is even worth it?  Your father was my brother, and I want to know who killed him before I die myself, but not like this.”

Her uncle had heard of the Library and its guardian, but he didn’t know the details. Nobody did.

She reached for another book. Another handful of dust. The noise had become a snuffling – was there an animal back there? Sheila nervously moved a few rows over. Tried another book. More dust. More snuffling, and now a sound of tapping, tapping hooves on marble, gently moving nearer.

“Find the book, the right book, and you’ll find your answer. All the answers, all the knowledge is there. But do you deserve it? Is it yours to find?” He fidgeted uneasily in his chair before the fire. He had shrunk with age and sickness, and seemed smaller than the wavering shadow he cast on the wall. “Only the worthy can expect to find what they are looking for.” He coughed wetly into a handkerchief.

She hadn’t believed him. It had been years since he had stirred from his own library. How did he know what was going on anyplace else? His life had been full of fantasies and strange adventures that the family had tolerated without understanding them. She was only here for the key. He had a key, and a map, and a bunch of old warnings she didn’t want to hear. Since her father had been murdered she had stopped listening to anybody. The police had been of no use, and hinted at suicide. Her family had been fatalistic, and accepted his death without much questioning. She had no use for any of them. She was going to solve this herself. Maybe once she knew the truth, she could finally be free of the grief and the rage and the nights of tears.

She lost what little patience she had. “Where is it? Where is the key and the map?” She yelled at him. He would dither all night if she let him. “Is it in here?” She started opening books and flipping through them. “You’ve been hiding this all these years! All this information the world could use, all of this knowledge, hidden! Who gave you the right to keep it all from us?” She angrily tossed a pile of books on a chair.

“Oh calm down, girl. Don’t pretend this is about anything besides yourself. You don’t care about the world. You loved your father, I’ll give you that, but what else have you ever cared about?” He paused and wiped his handkerchief across his mouth. “I was going to give you the key and the map anyway. They need a new keeper, and there isn’t anybody else. I’m not sure you’re the best choice. You’ll probably get killed.” He waved a shaking hand at a box on a shelf. “It’s over there.”

Sheila opened another book, and another handful of dust drifted to the ground. The snuffling sounds were louder now. The sound of hooves on the marble floor sounded closer, and angry, somehow. She started to run.

She ran from row to row, grabbing books, opening them, and letting them fall. All empty, all blank. There were no answers here. There had never been any answers. Tears ran through the dust on her cheeks. She had been wrong, again. She had rushed into this without thinking, like usual. What was she going to do with the information anyway? Nothing would bring her father back.

She rounded another corner, and skidded to a stop, almost falling. It was there, the Librarian was there, in the next aisle. She caught a glimpse of rough fur, heard the snorting of a bull, and felt the wind of a claw swipe and miss her. She turned and ran through the rows. Grabbing books and opening them as she passed. She heard pages rustle and fall, but they never hit the ground. The air was full of dust, and the pounding of hooves behind her. The hot breath of the Librarian was on her neck as she tripped and started to fall. His hand grabbed her shoulder and he pulled her towards him.

As she fell, her hand had landed on one last book, and her mind for a moment was clear, all the anger and hurt of years fading for a second. “It doesn’t even matter if I ever know what happened. I loved him so much. I hope he knew.” She dropped the book and turned to face the Librarian.

The book fell and opened and this one wasn’t dust, it was sunshine. Bright yellow sunshine spilled out into the Library, along with the smell of cut grass and the sounds of a summer day at home. The paw disappeared from her shoulder, and she fell into the book. The key and the map would be safe with her, and she had all the answers she had ever needed.

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